By Dave Andrusko
Another day, another lawsuit. On Wednesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) announced it was filing another two-part attack on provisions of Texas’s omnibus HB2. They targeted the admitting privileges provision and the requirement that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
The move comes six days after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit unanimously upheld provisions of HB 2 that required abortionists to have admitting privileges to a hospital located within 30 miles of the abortion clinic and regulated how far into pregnancy chemical abortifacients can be administered. According to published reports, the CRR could ask the full 5th Circuit to rehear the case. If this is not granted, or if they lose, CRR could ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Undeterred by the panel’s unanimous opinion, CRR sent out a press release stating it was filing a federal lawsuit in Austin (1) seeking “an immediate court order blocking the law’s requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals as it applies to Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Health Services in El Paso”; and (2) to “strike down HB2’s provision that every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers.” The latter provision does not effect until September 1.
CRR argues the former provision has forced Whole Woman’s Health to close its door and that the latter would force even more abortion clinics, especially those west or south of San Antonio, out of business.
Noteworthy is the CRR has not challenged (and did not yesterday) the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is part of HB2. This provision prohibits killing unborn children who have reached the developmental milestone of being able to feel pain, which substantial medical evidence places at 20 weeks, if not earlier.
The requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles was originally challenged by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, and struck down by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin. The state appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit subsequently upheld the law.
At the end of November, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by pro-abortion plaintiffs for a stay, which meant Texas could implement the law.